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Eli Lilly switches SAP from Oracle for DB2

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Case Study - Switching SAP from Oracle database to DB2

Based on discussion with Scott Dial, Senior Architect, GBIP Infrastructure at Eli Lilly Corporation.


Lilly’s SAP Profile is a single instance ECC (ERP Central Component) 6.0 with 6 terabytes on the main ECC plus 50 TB of other data. The reason they needed to make some changes to their environment is they needed to move to Unicode, where a single byte becomes two bytes, in order to get into Asian markets. Though they were usually slow to make changes, this was going to double their data load so they needed to explore all alternatives before pushing forward with their current approach since total cost of ownership was a concern.

They ran a proof of concept, comparing DB2, Oracle & Microsoft. DB2 was all new to Lilly.

Their criteria for the migration was that they needed to migrate with no more than a 24 hour outage.

In the POC, DB2 9.5 proved >40% compression (when they got to production, they used DB2 9.7 and got > 62% compression). The most time consuming queries they had produced equal or better performance on DB2. IBM demonstrated easy administration using DBACOCKPIT.

After the decision was made to go with DB2, they didn’t need to change any Oracle SQL.

They moved from Sun Solaris to HP Redhat Linux V5.3 and moved all SAP application servers to VMware ESX servers – V4.0. They switched most things out, but the Veritas Clustering Server remained the same. And DB2’s HADR feature for standby database is “seamless.”

Their biggest problem in the migration was that they had done some “ALTER TABLE ADD COLUMNs” – which was not recommended By SAP – and these were not picked up in the conversion so they had to do them manually.

All support now goes to SAP with the exception of Change Data Capture.

Scott’s keys to success: • Running a POC • Early engagement with strategic vendors • IBM Lab Advocacy program • Integrated Support Model.


Scott also talked about the benefit of the IBM Technical Exchange.

One surprising aspect of this move to me was that Lilly is an Oracle Enterprise Customer which, in my experience, usually takes the DBMS decision off the table. It would have cost them 0 to install Oracle. Of course, they had to pay for DB2, but Scott calculated that they made up for the cost in 17 months based on DB2’s superior compression.

Lilly was also able to reduce its support staff for SAP and reallocate some people internally. The training of the Oracle staff for DB2 was a 3-day course. It wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be and the transition had a lot to do with terminology (i.e., Oracle database= DB2 instance).

Scott was used to a different SAP support culture. IBM has had to tell him to “relax” several times!

IBM offers a fixed price and guarantees to be on time, and has, in their words, “never missed” on this.

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